Masculine Mindfulness: 6 Ways for Guys to Be More Present
Just a few years ago, practicing mindfulness in your office might have gotten you strange looks. Today, this ancient technique has become fully mainstream and is now commonly used to help people alleviate stress and improve their mental clarity.
Unfortunately, a significant number of men are reluctant to engage in mindfulness. Whether it’s from years of conditioning aimed at hiding our emotions or something deeper, it’s clear that men are missing out on a practice which could greatly improve their health and well-being.
If you’re worried about mindfulness making you appear unmanly or weak, don’t worry—here are six ways to embrace this powerful practice and learn to be more present each day:
Start and End Your Day Right
Are you rushing to get out the door each morning? Do you have trouble shutting off your brain at night? Practicing mindful meditation each day has been shown to improve sleep quality (see claim: “The use of a community-accessible MAPs intervention resulted in improvements in sleep quality at immediate postintervention…”) and can potentially boost your mental clarity at work.
For your morning session, set your alarm to go off 10 minutes earlier than usual. Use this additional 10 minutes to practice mindful meditation, in which you simply focus on your breathing and gently bring your mind back to the present moment when it begins to wander.
Make mindful meditation part of your nightly routine by practicing guided meditation. There are plenty of guided meditations offered freely by universities that are perfect for beginners.
Take a Mindful Walk
There is more than one way to practice mindfulness. If you have trouble sitting still for too long, try taking a meditative walk in the morning.
Meditative walking works much the same as sedentary mindfulness and provides the added benefits of exercise, such as a lower risk of death (see claim: “Higher daily step count was linearly associated with subsequent long term mortality among free living adults…”). The key is to find a location which allows you to walk in peace and quiet, with as little disturbances as possible.
A great place to practice meditative walking is on a school track at a time when no students will be using it. The even-level track makes it easy to focus on your breathing and sensations of your body while you walk.
Cook a Nice Meal and Savor Each Bite
We’ve already established that mindfulness isn’t just about sitting quietly in a corner and focusing on your breathing. In fact, you can also practice mindful eating, which has more than one benefit for busy men.
First, mindful eating forces you to slow down and savor each bite. If you have a troubled relationship with food, this may help you lose weight and avoid mindless snacking.
The simple act of cooking a nice meal can also be considered a form of self-care, which men often neglect. Mindfulness and self-care are closely related, and practicing both can significantly improve your overall sense of well-being.
Establish a Self-Care Routine
Speaking of self-care, how often do you stop and focus on caring for both your mind and body? If you’re like most men, the answer is probably not nearly as often as you should.
A simple and effective way to start practicing self-care is by establishing a regular skin care routine. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Just five minutes in the morning and before bed is all it takes to reap the benefits of bright, healthy skin.
Practicing this small form of self-care can help you stay attuned to your body and will remind you to treat your body with the care it deserves each day. Additionally, your body will thank you in return by providing you with glowing skin and improved confidence.
Get in the Zone
It’s common knowledge that many sports require serious mental fortitude. But did you know that many professional athletes use mindfulness to be at the top of their game?
For example, basketball players are taught to relax and clear all distractions when shooting free-throws. Special Forces troops go through mindful meditation training to improve not only their resiliency and performance, but also their mental health during post-deployment.
You can similarly use sports to train your brain and focus your thoughts, or vice versa. For instance, playing racquetball by yourself can improve your focus and clear your mind. Shooting clay pigeons at a gun range can also help you learn how to control your breathing to shoot properly.
Learn to Control—Not Eliminate—Your Inner Thoughts
The purpose of mindfulness isn’t to get rid of your thoughts entirely. Rather, it’s to acknowledge your thoughts and inner emotions without letting them control you.
Chris Evans (aka Captain America) has previously shared his experiences with anxiety and how being mindful has helped him control his “brain noise,” as he calls it. Evans says that listening to this brain noise is one of the worst things we can do because it rarely has anything good to say.
The next time you feel ashamed or frustrated that your thoughts are slipping out of your control, take a deep breath and remind yourself that even super heroes can struggle with anxiety. By practicing mindfulness regularly, you can rise above these thoughts and live day-to-day in the present.
Find What Works for You…and Be Patient
Remember, there is no one right way to practice mindfulness. If the traditional mindfulness technique of sitting quietly doesn’t work for you, there are plenty of other techniques you can try to achieve the same benefits.
One last thing to keep in mind: Don’t expect results overnight! Mindfulness takes practice and patience. However, the many benefits you stand to gain from just 10 minutes per day can make all the difference to your mental and physical health.